Three worthwhile games remastered, but the flaws are still very present.
Falling in the final quarter of 2006, the original Dead Rising revolutionised the survival-horror genre, capitalising on the nonsensical thrill of bludgeoning zombies to death with anything you can get your hands on. Its slapstick tone and sandbox structure lent itself beautifully to the setting of George A Romero's classic Dawn of the Dead and it later became a staple in the library of 360 purists. With the fourth instalment of the series drawing ever closer, Capcom has delved deep into the vault, resurrecting the series' most defining moments and giving PlayStation players the chance to sink their teeth into the previously inaccessible first stretch of the franchise.
The Triple Pack features optimised versions of Dead Rising, Dead Rising 2 and Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, with each sporting sleeker 1080p visuals and a mostly consistent 60FPS. Also included within the package is a whole wardrobe of wacky attire that was previously bolted shut behind paid DLC, so without even leaving the confines of the safe zone you can make sure that you are appropriately dressed as a deluded psychopath, a lightning-fast ninja or, of course, a robot made of cardboard.
As the compilation coincides with franchise's tenth anniversary, it's disappointing that there is no behind the scenes content or unreleased footage. Core expansions Case Zero and Case West also fail to make an appearance, which is peculiar as they were present on the previously released Dead Rising Collection for the Xbox 360. Besides the hefty dose of nostalgia that it undoubtedly offers, returning fans may find little here to lure them in for a second visit.
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It may be categorised as one of the defining releases of the last generation, but when gazing back over a decade later it's clear to see that the original Dead Rising hasn't aged too gracefully. Shooting feels unforgivably clunky, navigating the map can be painfully difficult due to the lack of placeable waypoints and the visuals, while they are moderately improved, are still majorly outdated. Going back after playing the sequels can be quite jarring as later instalments have improved upon the classic formula and ironed out many niggling issues that continue to haunt the original. But while it is flawed, Dead Rising is both hilarious and addictive and the excellent mechanics that it introduced have provided the template for every subsequent sequel.
By far the series' most despised trope is its ticking counter which inadvertently diminishes your freedom to explore and forces you to complete tasks in a linear fashion. Having time restraints on your actions just doesn't gel well with a game that offers total freedom with regards to combat and customisation. Time may be scarce in a zombie apocalypse, but there must be other ways to execute a sense of urgency. Capcom have promised not to include the feature in Dead Rising 4, but within the collection the frustrating timer system still persists.
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Blue Castle Games definitely adopted for an 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' approach when developing the sequel, but while it is repetitive it succeeds in refining the formula and introducing its own innovations. Along with a refreshed UI, sharper controls and improve mechanics, Dead Rising 2 adds craftable weapons through combo cards, allowing you to pool together everyday resources to produce some grizzly contraptions. Its tone, however, does feel a little mismatched, as you play as a newly-widowed father desperately fighting for his daughter's survival in the middle of one of the most absurd games of the last generation. Sullen protagonist Chuck Greene lacks depth and fails to exhibit the charm possessed by series mascot Frank West, who never fails to entertain with his sarcastic quips and witty one liners.
Dead Rising 2 was also the first to introduce online play to the series, adding co-op functionality to the story, also adding the Terror Is Reality mode, which is torn straight from the prologue. Co-op translates well into the experience and bringing a friend along is great for crowd control, but disappointingly you're unable to save your progress when playing alongside others.
TIR is a brutal zombie-slaying gameshow where players compete in a series of extreme sports mini-games to rack up the most kills and bag the most cash. Two of our clear favourites are Slicecycles, an event introduced in the campaign where you drive blade-wielding motorcycles into crowds of infected, and Ramsterball, where you can flatten droves of zombies whilst strapped into a man-sized hamster ball.
The Off The Record remake completes the lineup and sees you reprise the role of Frank West in an almost identical experience to that of Dead Rising 2. Regarded by many fans as a superior experience, the title features all new combo moves, varied quests and yes, the return of Frank's beloved camera. Nothing too much has changed, however, as core missions remain almost identical and the fictional setting of Fortune City remains completely intact. If you are willing to forge past the looming sense of Déjà vu then there's much here to enjoy, but we wouldn't recommend diving straight in after the Dead Rising 2 credits roll.
Beyond the campaign is where Off The Record really flourishes though, as it includes its own exclusive stash of concept artwork and a long-awaited sandbox free-roaming mode. Free from the restraints of timers and urgent story objects, the sandbox mode allows you to let loose on a destructive rampage and explore to your heart's content. Challenges are peppered throughout the mall and test the efficiency of your zombie slaughtering skills, and earning either bronze, silver or gold will reward you with hefty cash prizes. Sandbox mode is extremely addictive in short bursts and for us it was pleasingly reminiscent of some of the wacky side activities found in the earlier Saints Row titles.
While it succeeds in compiling some of the best zombie slaying action of the last generation into one accessible package, this Triple Pack is a far cry from a definitive collection. The enhanced performance, whilst noticeable, does little to combat its ageing visuals and an absence of any exclusive content makes it hard to recommend to anyone who played last generation. Those who missed out, however, particularly PlayStation owners, may want to give it a look as it's a generally solid package filled with three slightly flawed, but definitely worthwhile titles.
7 / 10
It includes the original Dead Rising for the first time on a PlayStation platform. Combat is continually hilarious. It contains three solid games at a reasonable price.
DLC Case Zero and Case West are absent. There's a lack of exclusive content. Sticking to a timer is frustrating. Visual improvements, whilst noticeable, have minor impact.